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A General Purpose Technology at Work: The Corliss Steam Engine in the late 19th Century US

  • Rosenberg, N.
  • Trajtenberg, M.

The steam engine is widely regarded as the icon of the Industrial Revolution and a prime example of a “General Purpose Technology,” and yet its contribution to growth is far from transparent. This paper examines the role that a particular innovative design in steam power, the Corliss engine, played in the intertwined processes of industrialization and urbanization that characterized the growth of the US economy in the late 19th century.

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Paper provided by Tel Aviv in its series Papers with number 2001-27.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:teavfo:2001-27
Contact details of provider: Postal: Israel TEL-AVIV UNIVERSITY, THE FOERDER INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH, RAMAT AVIV 69 978 TEL AVIV ISRAEL.
Phone: 972-3-640-9255
Fax: 972-3-640-5815
Web page: http://econ.tau.ac.il/research/foerder.asp
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  1. Elhanan Helpman & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1994. "A Time to Sow and a Time to Reap: Growth Based on General Purpose Technologies," NBER Working Papers 4854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
  3. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Weiss, Thomas, 1980. "The Regional Diffusion and Adoption of the Steam Engine in American Manufacturing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(02), pages 281-308, June.
  4. Temin, Peter, 1966. "Steam and Waterpower in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(02), pages 187-205, June.
  5. Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1988. "Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790 - 1846," NBER Working Papers 2707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Nathan Rosenberg, 1996. "Uncertainty and technological change," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 40(Jun), pages 91-125.
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